The nine other Republicans sharing the stage with Trump turned on one another at times but largely avoided direct challenges to the combative real estate mogul who has rocketed to the top of opinion polls in the 2016 race. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky did take on Trump, confronting him after Trump kicked off the debate by refusing to pledge his support for the Republican nominee in the November 2016 election.

"I will not make the pledge at this time," said Trump, who for weeks has cited he would not rule out an independent bid that would almost certainly split the Republican vote and boost the chances of victory for the Democratic nominee. Trump's response drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from Paul, who stated Trump was keeping his options open to support Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, a reference to his past friendship with both Clinton and her husband, Bill.

"He's already hedging his bets because he's used to buying politicians of all stripes," Paul said. Trump's veiled threat to bolt the party if necessary could risk his support among Republican primary voters and stall his momentum, although the billionaire reality television star has repeatedly defied predictions of political doom.

 

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It's all about Trump at raucous Republican debate

 

Cleveland: Chairman and president of The Trump Organization Donald Trump refused to rule out an independent White House bid and bristled at questions about his attitudes toward women, leaving his rivals struggling for attention yesterday during a feisty first Republican Presidential debate.

 

The nine other Republicans sharing the stage with Trump turned on one another at times but largely avoided direct challenges to the combative real estate mogul who has rocketed to the top of opinion polls in the 2016 race.

 

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky did take on Trump, confronting him after Trump kicked off the debate by refusing to pledge his support for the Republican nominee in the November 2016 election.

 

"I will not make the pledge at this time," said Trump, who for weeks has cited he would not rule out an independent bid that would almost certainly split the Republican vote and boost the chances of victory for the Democratic nominee.

 

Trump's response drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from Paul, who stated Trump was keeping his options open to support Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, a reference to his past friendship with both Clinton and her husband, Bill.

 

"He's already hedging his bets because he's used to buying politicians of all stripes," Paul said. Trump's veiled threat to bolt the party if necessary could risk his support among Republican primary voters and stall his momentum, although the billionaire reality television star has repeatedly defied predictions of political doom.